Who says good wine has to be expensive? No one that knows what they’re talking about, that’s for sure. Right now (Friday morning) I’m in California at Pebble Beach Food & Wine so it seemed the perfect time to schedule a post of this fun little wine tasting my friend hosted last week. The principle was simple: everyone brought a bottle of wine that cost no more than $6 and we all tasted them, blind, and rated them on a scale of 1-10.

Some people brought favorites and some just picked whatever label looked prettiest under the price limit, and it turned out well as there were a surprising number of really good wines in the group! Of eleven only two were exact duplicates (same brand,  year, and vintage) — and interestingly they finished within 2 points of each other.

The final tally got a little confusing (we didn’t all fill our sheets out the same way) but the winner, out of eleven wines both red and white, was Lucky Duck’s Sauvignon Blanc (Chili). And it just so happened to be the wine that I brought! It was total “luck” because I’d never had it before and picked it for the name and the label — that duck is a cutie. :)

Here’s the final ranking of all the wines we tried, from 1st down to 11th place:

  1. Lucky Duck Sauvignon Blanc (Chili)
  2. Riunite Lambrusco Emilia
  3. Riunite Lambrusco Emilia
  4. Banrock Station 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia)
  5. Lucky Duck Chardonnay (Australia)
  6. Oak Leaf Pinot Grigio (California)
  7. Rex Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon
  8. Fish Eye Chardonnay (Australia)
  9. Oak Leaf Shiraz (California)
  10. Rex Goliath Zinfandel (California)
  11. Flip Flop 2010 Pinot Grigio (California)

Hosting a wine tasting party with a low price limit is a great way to find new ‘every day’ wines and find hidden gems, as well as weed out the cheap brands that really do taste cheap. Have you tried any of the wines on this list? I’d say any of the top 5 or 6 are absolutely worth it next time you’re in the market for something good but inexpensive.

Photos by Katie Nelson Tower

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